TCL shows off two concept phones with rollable and tri-foldable displays

TCL shows off two concept phones with rollable and tri-foldable displays

Smartphones started off as small-screen devices that could easily fit into our palm, and gradually gained bigger displays till the point they could not fit into our pockets. To shrink them back down again, the war on bezels eliminated all the holding areas on the front of the device, giving us our current generation of smartphones that have a near bezel-less experience. Foldables are considered to be the next big leap for the plateauing smartphone market, as they converge the ideas of maximizing screen size while balancing the size of the device. We’ve already seen a few foldable smartphones by now, like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, the Motorola Razr, and the Huawei Mate Xs, and all of them take different approaches in their execution. TCL has a few ideas of its own, so the company is now showing off two concept phones: one with a rollable display and one with a tri-foldable display.

TCL Concept with Rollable Display

This concept smartphone isn’t exactly a folding smartphone within the strict and conventional definition of the term. But it does utilize a flexible display to build upon the same concepts of a folding smartphone. This concept primarily shows off TCL’s display prowess through their partly-owned subsidiary, CSOT (China Star Optoelectronics Technology), as well as the room for innovation and thinking outside of the box when it comes to folding smartphones.

The TCL rollable display Concept phone claims to be the world’s first rollable extendable smartphone concept, and we are inclined to take their word for it.

As previously leaked, this concept phone uses internal motors to extend a 6.75″ AMOLED display to a 7.8″ display size at the press of a button. When not in use, a motor-driven sliding panel conceals the flexible display.

If you have difficulty imagining the rolling action on the device, think of it as a Xiaomi Mi MIX Alpha smartphone, but with a protective casing on the back display — the display is stored flat underneath the casing, and you can extend the device by pulling out on one side on the front.

The phone is said to be just 9mm thick, which is about the same as the Galaxy S20 Ultra, so it retains practical usability. TCL also claims that because of a larger axis and rolled display, the device has no wrinkles or creases, thus tackling one of the annoyances with current-generation folding smartphones. With this smartphone, one can enjoy some of the best qualities of all existing folding phone designs — you get a normal-sized phone opening into a bigger tablet, like the Galaxy Fold and the Mate Xs, but at the same time, you can protect the unused display and not leave it exposed on the other side while still avoiding packing a second display. And of course, no claimed creases or wrinkles.

TCL Concept with tri-folding display

If you want your smartphone to unfold into an even larger tablet, you should pay attention to this TCL Concept. It has a 6.65″ 3K AMOLED display with a 20.8:9 aspect ratio that can unfold on both sides to become a large 10″ tablet.

This concept utilizes both DragonHinge and ButterflyHinge hinge designs, one on either side. TCL claims that there is smooth folding inward and outward with a minimal gap, but these claims remain to be independently assessed.

Only one side of the phone is exposed when in phone-form, which is unlike the Xiaomi folding phone prototype that had two outward-folding sides that left the screen exposed on both the front and back in the phone-form. We are also unsure of why TCL is referring to this concept as a tri-fold display when there are only two folds on it — one inward and one outward. Maybe they are referring to the display partition?

Pricing and Availability

As the names would imply, both of these are concept smartphones. There is no pricing or availability information on these phones, which is to be expected when the word “concept” is used. It is also not immediately clear whether TCL will be showcasing prototypes of these concepts at any future event.

What are your thoughts on TCL’s new rollable display concept and tri-fold concept? Let us know in the comments below!

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